Death toll rises to seven but interior minister rules out biological or environmental damage in Danube river.
|Hungarian officials say damage to wall of reservoir is minor, but villagers are being evacuated as a ‘precaution’ [AFP]|
The Hungarian village of Kolontar, which lies close to the deadly sludge spill in the country’s west, is being evacuated for fear of a new leak of the dangerous heavy metal waste, officials say.
Authorities ordered the evacuation on Saturday morning at 7am local time after further damage was discovered at a burst reservoir that spilled toxic sludge on Monday, according to the national news agency, MTI.
Kolontar and Devecser were the towns hardest hit when up to 700,000 cubic metres of red sludge from an industrial plant flooded from a burst reservoir at an alumina plant in Ajka.
Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Kolontar on Saturday, said the damage to the northern wall of the reservoir is minor, but 800 villagers are being evacuated as a precaution.
“The police have blocked off the area and are evacuating all 800 residents to a sports hall and two schools in Ajka, eight kilometres away,” she said.
“Officials have decided to take this action because they have discovered new damage to the northern part of the reservoir and some toxic mud inside of it too. They insist that this is a precautionary measure, however, they have not detailed what the damage is exactly.”
The death toll following the spill has risen to seven. Around 150 people have been injured.
Many have suffered from burns and eye irritations caused by corrosive elements in the mud, and hundreds have been evacuated from their homes.
MAL Zrt, the company that owns the metals plant, said the waste was not considered hazardous under EU standards and recommended people clean off the sludge with water.
Tibor Dobson, the disaster unit chief, said no new waste has escaped from the huge container “so far”.
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, said the Danube river was no longer under threat of widespread pollution and that the situation had now been brought “under control”.
Experts have been pouring large quantities of clay and acid into affected waterways in an effort to neutralise the alkaline pollutants.